Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Self-Publishing Secrets: Interview with Morgan Malone, author of 'Taking Control: Rick's Story'

Morgan Malone is the pen name of a retired lawyer who turned in her judicial robes to write romantic memoir and sexy contemporary romance, which always features silver foxes and the independent women who tame them.

Morgan fell in love with romantic heroes after reading her mother’s first edition of “Gone with the Wind” when she was 12 years old. Rhett Butler became the standard by which she measured all men. Some have met the mark, most have failed to even come close and one or two surpassed even Rhett’s dark and dangerous allure.

Morgan lives near Saratoga Springs, NY with her beloved chocolate Lab. She can be found on occasion drinking margaritas and dancing at local hostelries, but look for her most often in independent book stores and the library, searching for her next great love in tales of romance, history, adventure and lust. When she can’t find the perfect man, she retreats to her upstairs office and creates him, body and soul, for her pleasure and for yours. Remember: love, like wine, gets better with age.
Her recent novel is the contemporary romance, Taking Control: Rick’s Story.



Thank you for this interview. You self-published your latest book, Taking Control: Rick’s Story. Would you please tell us why you chose the self-publishing route? 

Taking Control: Rick’s Story, is the second book in what will be a three-part series, Love in Control. The first book, Out of Control: Kat’s Story, was originally published by Turquoise Morning Press, which is, sadly, no longer in business. There was a demand from readers of Kat’s story to learn what happened to Rick. I wanted to get the book out while there was interest and not have to go through the traditional publishing process, which can sometimes take a year or more. And I did not want to give up my rights to Out of Control to a traditional publisher, if Taking Control prompted a traditional publisher to want to publish the series.

Take us through the process. You had an idea for your book, you wrote it, and then you decided to find a publisher. What were your experiences with that?

I knew I had to write Rick’s story even while I was still writing Out of Control: Kat’s Story because Rick was such a compelling character. My publisher at the time was interested in subsequent books in the proposed series, so it seemed natural that Rick would get the next book. Actually, Out of Control was not my idea; it was the idea of Kim Jacobs at Turquoise Morning Press, to compile a collection of “50 Shades of Gray” type novels to coincide with the release of the first 50 Shades movie in February 2015. I wrote Out of Control for that collection. It was a great experience to be asked to write a book, though it was initially difficult for a new author to craft a story following guidelines that had been determined by someone else. But, it was a tremendous learning experience and I am so grateful to Kim Jacobs, the publisher, and Dee Mullin, who is still my editor, for the opportunity.

What different online stores carry your book?

I wanted to try something different with this book, so I went through D2D, Draft to Digital, for the release of Taking Control: Rick’s Story. My book is available at most online stores, including, Amazon, Kobe, Barnes and Noble and iBooks.

Do you think that having your book self-published makes any difference to the media?

National media certainly pays little attention to most self-published authors. I am fortunate that my local press has had a continued interest in my work. I get a few local interviews or features, especially when I do a reading and book signing at our local independent books store, Northshire Book Store in Saratoga Springs, NY.

Are they open to interviewing self-published authors or reviewing their books? 

I’ve been interviewed before for USA News, but that was my only national exposure. Local press with whom I have a relationship are interested in interviews. I ask for reviews on my Facebook page, my website, Twitter and in my newsletter. I have also had good luck with promotions run by Pump Your Book and Ryan Zee.

Authors who go the traditional route have an edge over self-published authors in regards to distribution to bookstores. How did you handle that as a self-published author? 

I let my local independent book store know when I have a new release and I’m usually scheduled for a reading and book signing, then they stock copies of the book in their (small) romance section. When I travel, I look for independent book stores and bring in a few copies for them to sell on consignment.

On the other hand, self-published authors have the edge over traditional books in the regards that the author has all the control.

Being an independent author gives me great freedom to choose the subject-matter, the length, the cover, the release date and everything else.

I’d like to begin with your cover. Did you make it or did you have someone else design it? 

All my covers are designed by the fabulously talented Kris Norris. I’m a klutz when it comes to Photo Shop or any design work. I tell Kris about my story, give her a few details and she manages to create a cover far better than I could even imagine.

Did you get someone to format it for you or did you do that?

My editor, Deelylah Mullin, not only edits and proofs all my books, but she formats them for me, too. On a computer, I’m pretty good with words but not much else.

What was the hardest challenge for you to self-publish your book?

I am retired after 30 years as an administrative law judge and counsel to a government agency, so I am fortunate not to have to try to find time to write while working a full-time job. But without deadlines imposed by a publisher, I need to discipline myself to sit down and write. As I mentioned, I have a great team to rely on with Dee, Kris, my Beta-readers Sue, Sue and Katie, and my webmaster, Nick. But I have to fit my writing into their schedules to some extent. Even with great ideas and great support, it is expensive to self-publish. That is the biggest challenge: budgeting funds for editing, cover, printing, and marketing. And the expenses that you don’t think about up front, like postage, bookmarks, attending conferences and book-signings.

What steps are you taking to promote it? 

I sent out a newsletter when Taking Control: Rick’s Story was first released. I sponsored a luncheon at a reader-author event and offered the book at a discount at the book-signing that followed. I use Facebook ads on my author page. And I used Kindle Romance Review and Pump Up Your Book to set up blog tours and interviews.

Do you have any advice you’d like to share with other self-published authors?

Write the best book you can. Give your book to the best editor you can afford for at least two edits and one proof-read. Nothing will kill your sales more than sloppy writing, poor grammar, mis-spelled words and an ending that doesn’t make sense. You need an objective eye to tell you where you’ve made mistakes, where you can improve your story and how. Once you have a book you love, then network, advertise, participate in workshops, conferences and book signings.

And give back to the writing community and groups and causes who have helped you. The work of the Saratoga WarHorse Foundation created a pivotal point in Taking Control: Rick’s Story. The Foundation matches vets with PTSD and retired thoroughbred racehorses in a unique program that has helped 1000 veterans to overcome the effects trauma. I am donating 25% of my profits from the sale of Taking Control: Rick’s Story to Saratoga WarHorse Foundation.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Book Publishing Secrets with Michael McMenamin, Co-Author of 'Appointment in Prague'

Michael McMenamin is the co-author with his son Patrick of the award winning 1930s era historical novels featuring Winston Churchill and his fictional Scottish goddaughter, the adventure-seeking Hearst photojournalist Mattie McGary. The first five novels in the series—The DeValera Deception, The Parsifal Pursuit, The Gemini Agenda, The Berghof Betrayal and The Silver Mosaic—received a total of 15 literary awards. He is currently at work with his daughter Kathleen McMenamin on the sixth Winston and Mattie historical adventure, The Liebold Protocol.

Michael is the author of the critically acclaimed Becoming Winston Churchill, The Untold Story of Young Winston and His American Mentor [Hardcover, Greenwood 2007; Paperback, Enigma 2009] and the co-author of Milking the Public, Political Scandals of the Dairy Lobby from LBJ to Jimmy Carter [Nelson Hall, 1980]. He is an editorial board member of Finest Hour, the quarterly journal of the International Churchill Society and a contributing editor for the libertarian magazine Reason. His work also has appeared in The Churchills in Ireland, 1660-1965, Corrections and Controversies [Irish Academic Press, 2012] as well as two Reason anthologies, Free Minds & Free Markets, Twenty Five Years of Reason [Pacific Research Institute, 1993] and Choice, the Best of Reason [BenBella Books, 2004]. A full-time writer, he was formerly a first amendment and media defense lawyer and a U.S. Army Counterintelligence Agent.    

Kathleen, the other half of the father-daughter writing team, has been editing her father’s writing for longer than she cares to remember. She is the co-author with her sister Kelly of the critically acclaimed Organize Your Way: Simple Strategies for Every Personality [Sterling, 2017]. The two sisters are professional organizers, personality-type experts and the founders of PixiesDidIt, a home and life organization business. Kathleen is an honors graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and has an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University. The novella Appointment in Prague is her second joint writing project with her father. Their first was “Bringing Home the First Amendment”, a review in the August 1984 Reason magazine of Nat Hentoff’s The Day They Came to Arrest the Book.  While a teen-ager, she and her father would often take runs together, creating plots for adventure stories as they ran.



About the Book:

Author: Michael McMenamin & Kathleen McMenamin
Publisher: First Edition Design Publishing
Pages: 160
Genre: Historical Thriller

In the novella, Appointment in Prague, one woman, a British secret agent, sets out in May 1942 to single-handedly send to hell the most evil Nazi alive—SS General Reinhard Heydrich, the head of the SD, the domestic and foreign counter-intelligence wing of the SS; second in rank only to the head of the SS himself, Reichsfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler; and the architect of  “The Final Solution” that will send millions of European Jews to their doom.

When British Prime Minister Winston Churchill authorizes the SOE—the ‘Special Operations Executive’— in October 1941 to assassinate Heydrich, he is unaware that the entire operation has been conceived and is being run by his Scottish goddaughter, the former Pulitzer Prize-winning Hearst photojournalist Mattie McGary. The SOE is Churchill’s own creation, one he informally describes as the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare and, at his suggestion, Mattie becomes one of its Deputy Directors. 

Mattie has a history with Heydrich dating back to 1933 and a personal score to settle. In September 1941, when the man known variously as ‘The Blond Beast’ and ‘The Man With the Iron Heart’—that last coming from Adolf Hitler himself—is appointed Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia, the remnants left of Czechoslovakia after the Germans had dismembered it in 1939, Mattie is determined—now that he is no longer safely within Germany’s borders—to have him killed. She recruits and trains several Czech partisans for the task and has them parachuted into Czechoslovakia in December 1941.

An increasingly impatient Mattie waits in London for word that her agents have killed the Blond Beast. By May 1942, Heydrich still lives and Mattie is furious.  The mother of six-year-old twins, Mattie decides—without telling her godfather or her American husband, the #2 man in the London office of the OSS—to parachute into Czechoslovakia herself and  “light a fire under their timid Czech bums”. Which she does, but her agents botch the job and Heydrich is only wounded in the attempt. The doctors sent from Berlin to care for him believe he will recover.

On the fly, Mattie conceives a new plan to kill Heydrich herself. With forged papers and other help from the highest-placed SOE asset in Nazi Germany—a former lover—Mattie determines to covertly enter Prague’s Bulovka Hospital and finish the job. After that, all she has to do is flee Prague into Germany and from there to neutral Switzerland. What Mattie doesn’t know is that Walter Schellenberg, Heydrich’s protégé and the head of Foreign Intelligence for the SD, is watching her every move.



Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Michael: I became someone who was paid as a writer a long time ago. My first article for which I was paid was a cover story in the March 1975 Reason magazine, “Milk, Money & Monopoly”, based on my then book-in-progress Milking the Public, Political Scandals of the Dairy Lobby From LBJ to Jimmy Carter published in 1980 by Nelson-Hall. Since then, I’ve had well over 200 articles published in Reason magazine where I am a Contributing Editor; the Cato Institute’s now defunct Inquiry magazine where I was also a Contributing Editor; and Finest Hour, the quarterly journal of the International Churchill Society where I was an Editorial Board member and Contributing Editor.
As for why I decided to write Appointment in Prague? The book is a novella that began life as the Epilogue (set in 1942 Prague) to our novel The Berghof Betrayal written with my son Patrick. That novel was set in 1933 Germany where the evil Nazi, Reinhard Heydrich, gives our heroine Mattie McGary more than enough reason to want him dead. But, in a historical novel, you can’t kill actual historical characters before their time. Hence the Epilogue in 1942 when Heydrich was actually killed. We eventually cut the Epilogue from that novel after we found a more immediate way for Mattie to put the fear of God into Heydrich.

I hate to waste good writing, however, and I really liked that Epilogue. When, earlier this year, I finished The Liebold Protocol (written with my daughter Kathleen), the 6th novel about the adventures of Mattie McGary, the intrepid Hearst photojournalist who is Winston Churchill’s goddaughter, I was inspired to expand the Epilogue into its present novella form in order to provide a platform for a six-chapter preview of the new novel. I did so by adding additional scenes after Mattie poisons Heydrich in Prague, including her subsequent capture by SS Counterintelligence as she attempts to flee to Switzerland.

Is this your first book?
Michael: Eighth actually; eleven if you count the anthologies.

Milking the Public, Political Scandals of the Dairy Lobby From LBJ to Jimmy Carter [Nelson Hall, 1980]

Becoming Winston Churchill, The Untold Story of Young Winston and His American Mentor [Hardcover: Greenwood, 2007; Trade Paperback: Enigma, 2009]


Free Minds & Free Markets, Twenty-Five Years of Reason [Pacific Research Institute, 1993]

Choice: The Best of Reason [Benbella, 2003]

The Churchills in Ireland 1660-1965: Connections & Controversies [Irish Academic Press, 2012]


The DeValera Deception, A Winston Churchill Thriller [Enigma, 2010]

The Parsifal Pursuit, A Winston Churchill Thriller [Enigma, 2011]

The Gemini Agenda, A Winston Churchill Thriller [Enigma, 2012]

The Berghof Betrayal, A Winston Churchill 1930s Thriller [First Edition Design, 2016]

The Silver Mosaic, A Winston Churchill 1930s Thriller [First Edition Design, 2017]

Appointment in Prague, a Mattie McGary + Winston Churchill World War II Adventure  [First Edition Design, 2018]

With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Michael: It’s really the last three books, all by First Edition Design. The publisher of our first three 1930s thrillers, Enigma Books in New York, was a traditional independent publisher. It went out of business when its editor Robert Miller died. Since I had done almost all the marketing on our first three novels, I wanted a new publisher who could give us what Enigma had done, i.e., great cover design, world-wide distribution and e-book formats, without sharing profits.  First Edition, a hybrid POD publisher did that. For example, when Enigma closed its doors, they stopped supporting an e-book version of the first three novels. Having previously re-acquired the rights from Enigma to those novels, First Edition quickly produced e-book versions that are now back on the market.
As for this particular book, even Enigma might not have indulged my desire to produce a novella lifted from the cutting room floor as a way of introducing a rebranded series written with my daughter Kathleen rather than my son Patrick.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Michael: I’ve found my publishers in a variety of ways. It’s a complicated journey, but since you asked… My first book arose out of the Senate Watergate Committee hearings in the 1970s and was published in 1980 by Nelson Hall—Milking the Public, Political Scandals of the Dairy Lobby From LBJ to Jimmy Carter. The only thing that surprised me was how easy it was to find a publisher, as Nelson-Hall was one of the first three publishers to whom I had simultaneously submitted a book proposal. Maybe I should have had an agent. The advance was only $300.

Anyway, finding a publisher for my first and subsequent novels is a more complicated story that begins with Martha Stewart. No, really. I am a Contributing Editor for the libertarian magazine Reason. My article “St. Martha: Why Martha Stewart Should Go to Heaven and the SEC Should Go to Hell” was the cover story in its September 2003 issue. It was a spirited defense of the still-undefined ‘crime’ of insider trading generally and Martha’s actions specifically. I wrote it with my other daughter who has an MBA from Dartmouth and was, at the time, a hedge fund analyst on Wall Street. Her name does not appear as a co-author because we thought it was not a wise career move for a Wall Street financial analyst to publicly defend insider trading.

Shortly after that, I received a call from an editor at Praeger, which was owned at the time by Harcourt. He wanted me to submit a proposal to make the cover story into a book that would include Martha’s criminal trial. Wow! Never happened before and I’ve had a lot of Reason cover stories. I submitted the proposal and even hired a researcher to cover the trial for us. Alas, the proposal was not accepted. Still, I now knew an editor at a publisher like Praeger and my story on how I became a published novelist continues.

In 2004, I prepared and delivered a paper at the 2004 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Becoming Winston Churchill: How the Political Thought and Oratory of Winston Churchill Were Shaped by His Irish-American Mentor, Bourke Cockran. Based on my research into the Churchill-Cockran correspondence, I decided I could expanded it into a into a joint biography of young Winston and Cockran who was really a fascinating guy who did a hell of a lot more for Winston than his distant father, Lord Randolph, ever did. The fact that Churchill met Cockran at his mother’s suggestion after Cockran and Chuchill’s mother had an affair in Paris shortly following Lord Randolph’s death made it perfect. Sex!

And I now knew an editor to whom I could submit a proposal for what eventually became my 2nd book, Becoming Winston Churchill, the Untold Story of Young Winston and His American Mentor, whose Foreword was written by Churchill’s granddaughter Celia Sandys. Churchill’s official biographer, Sir Martin Gilbert, called it “Fascinating: a tour de force that brings life and light to one of the great early influences on Winston Churchill” and Allen Packwood, Director of the Churchill Archives Center at Cambridge wrote that it was “A magnificent achievement and an illuminating study of a largely forgotten relationship.” So, my editor friend at Praeger whose name, sadly, I can’t recall, sent my proposal to Greenwood World Publishing in the UK, another affiliate of Harcourt, where Simon Mason, the Senior Acquisitions Editor, bought the book and Greenwood published it in 2007 in both the UK and US.

OK, we’re almost up to how I found a publisher for our Mattie + Winston novels. I said it was complicated.  In 2009, Enigma Books in New York bought the trade paperback rights to Becoming Winston Churchill. Enigma specialized in non-fiction books on 20th century European and US history. I got to know Enigma’s editor, Robert Miller, quite well when I would come to New York at my expense whenever he could arrange a new venue for me to talk about my book because all three of my children lived in the city and their mother and I could visit and stay with them.

At that time, I had written with my son Patrick two unpublished historical thrillers set in the 1930s featuring Winston Churchill as a catalyst for our main characters like his goddaughter Mattie McGary and we were in the middle of writing a third. Our agents [different ones for each of the first two books] had secured quite a few rejection letters from well-known publishers praising our work, but alas no sale. I noticed in the backlist for Enigma that, while almost all of its 50+ books were non-fiction, it had also published 3 historical thrillers. I told Robert Miller that we had written two Churchill historical thrillers and asked him if he would like to read them. He did and, after he read them as well as a synopsis of the third novel, we signed a three-book deal for them shortly thereafter and became published—and literary award winning—novelists.

What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Michael: Well, publishing has changed a lot since 1980, but my experience with all my books is that you are going to have to do all the heavy lifting when it comes to marketing your books.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Michael: I’m not sure. All I can say is First Edition Design works for me and is a very writer-friendly publisher to deal with.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Michael: To repeat what this old guy said who once received the Nobel Prize for Literature:
“Never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” [Winston Churchill, October 1941]
Rejections, however many and occasionally kind they are, can be discouraging to a writer. Just remember Churchill and never give in. You never know when something will turn up.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Book Publishing Secrets with Margaret Mizushima, Author of 'Burning Ridge: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery'

Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Margaret: Thanks so much for hosting me! I wanted to become a storyteller years before I started writing. Back then, I was busy working long hours as a speech pathologist, and I would stand in line at the grocery store, searching through the rack of paperbacks to find the perfect weekend escape. I realized I wanted to entertain others through stories, so when I retired I began to study the art and craft of fiction writing. After years of practice, I developed the idea for the Timber Creek K-9 mysteries, found an agent and then a publisher.
Is this your first book?
Margaret: No, Burning Ridge is my fourth. My first book, Killing Trail—book one in the Timber Creek K-9 mystery series—was published in 2015. Crooked Lane Books also published book two, Stalking Ground, a year later and book three, Hunting Hour, one year after that.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Margaret: Burning Ridge is published by a traditional press. I decided to go the traditional or small press route because I’m afraid I don’t have the skillset to self-publish. My tech skills are sadly deficient.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Margaret: I attended writing classes at our local university, regional writing conferences that specialized in teaching commercial fiction, and local as well as online critique groups. I read, read, read bestselling authors in the mystery genre. (That was fun!) I researched my topics and found local consultants who would let me ask questions. I entered writing contests to get professional feedback. I had decided to pursue a traditional publisher, and after writing several different manuscripts without sparking anyone’s interest, I finally connected with both an agent and publisher with Killing Trail.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Margaret: Mine was a long journey from inspiration to published book. For me, it was most important to study fiction writing and participate in as many learning experiences as I could. I think getting input from other writers is critical to find areas that need revision, and then polish your work to the best of your ability before showing it to prospective agents or editors. In some cases, even working with a free-lance editor might be a good idea. Above all, persist. Most of us receive many no’s before we get that treasured yes.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Margaret: I would. Crooked Lane Books was a startup press back in 2014 when we initially connected. My first book was released during their second season, and it’s been exciting to be involved with this company from the word go.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Margaret: Find a good regional writing conference that specializes in education for the type of writing that you do. I was lucky, because here in Colorado we have two organizations that offer this type of conference annually, both focused on commercial fiction: Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and Pikes Peak Writers. By attending these conferences, I not only learned the How-to’s of writing commercial fiction but also connected with my agent and publisher.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Book Publishing Secrets with Charlene Whitman, Author of 'Wyoming Tryst'

The author of "heart-thumping" Western romance, Charlene Whitman spent many years living on Colorado's Front Range. She grew up riding and raising horses, and loves to read, write, and hike the mountains. She attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins as an English major. She has two daughters and is married to George "Dix" Whitman, her love of thirty years. 

Front Range series of sweet historical Western romance novels (set in the 1870s) includes Wild Horses, Wild Hearts, set in Laporte and Greeley. Colorado Promise, set in Greeley, Colorado; Colorado Hope, set in Fort Collins; Wild Secret, Wild Longing, which takes readers up into the Rockies, Colorado Dream (Greeley), and Wyoming Tryst, set in Laramie, WY.



About the Book:

Two ranching tycoons. A decades-old feud. A sheriff bent on ridding the town of lawlessness . . .
In the midst of the trouble brewing in Laramie City in 1878, Julia Carson yearns to be free of her
parents’ smothering and wonders whether she’ll ever find a man worthy to love in such a violent town rife with outlaws.
But when Robert Morrison sneaks onto her ranch the night of her sixteenth birthday party, Cupid shoots his arrows straight and true. Aware that their courtship would be anathema to their fathers, who are sworn enemies, Robert and Julia arrange a tryst.
Yet, their clandestine dalliance does not go unnoticed, and forces seek to destroy what little hope their romance has to bloom. The star-crossed lovers face heartache and danger as violence erupts. When all hope is lost, Joseph Tuttle, the new doctor at the penitentiary, is given a letter and a glass vial from Cheyenne medicine woman Sarah Banks.
The way of escape poses deadly dangers, but it is the only way for Robert and Julia to be together. It will take the greatest measure of faith and courage to come through unscathed, but love always conquers fear.



Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Author: I’ve been writing my whole life: short stories, poems, movie scripts. I’ve always loved to write, and I thought it would be fun to set a historical Western series in Colorado and Wyoming in the 1870s, as I’d lived in Colorado for some years, and I raised horses.
Is this your first book?
Author: Nope. With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Author: I self-publish all my romance novels and I prefer that, as I can control my pricing and promotion.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Author: It takes time to learn how to market and promote, and I’m learning tips all the time. Cons: takes a lot of time!
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Author: There’s a lot of competition. You have to write excellent novels and take the time to reach and respond to readers.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Author: Yes.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Author: Learn your craft and don’t rush to publish. Too many aspiring authors don’t know how to structure fiction, so read craft books (The Writer’s Toolbox books by C .S. Lakin will teach you everything you need to know!) and hire a professional writing coach/editor to help you assess your weak areas.
I hope you’ll dive into the Front Range series and go on my characters’ journeys with them. I believe you’ll be thrilled and moved by the heart-thumping romance! And if you join my mailing list with THIS LINK, you’ll get the first book, Wild Horses, Wild Hearts, for free!

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Book Publishing Secrets with Marty Ambrose, author of 'Claire's Last Secret'

Name:  Marty Ambrose
Book Title: Claire’s Last Secret
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Severn House
Find out more on Amazon
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Author:  Marty Ambrose
Is this your first book?
Author: No, I’ve written three stand-alone romantic suspense novels and a five-book traditional mystery series.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Author:  Traditional Press.  I was delighted that Severn House accepted my book for publication; it is a mid-sized press—but growing both in the U.S. and overseas.  Personally, I prefer a traditional publisher because I really like working with an editor and having the distribution support, but I think authors have to choose what method works for them.  There are many roads to publication today for authors.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Author: I’ve probably made every mistake in the book (no pun intended)!  I began my career writing romantic suspense but shifted into mystery about ten years ago, and I loved writing those books.  Two years ago, I decided to go in a completely new direction with historical fiction and I’ve never looked back.  I think it’s important for authors to be willing to reinvent themselves as they change and the publishing market evolves.
Pros:  I’ve always had an agent who found a home for my books.  I was with my first agent almost ten years until she retired and, now, I have a new agent who is just a gem.  I couldn’t have been luckier to have found such amazing writing partners.  I always attended conferences and found the networking opportunities VERY helpful to my career (met my agents at MWA events)—and I made lifelong friends.
Cons:  Two of my mysteries came out with houses the year before they discontinued publishing the genre, so I didn’t have a lot of promotional support.  Just bad luck.  Still, I was proud of the books and did everything that I could to promote them.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Author:  I believe there is a writing “karma” that operates in the publishing world:  some authors hit success very quickly and others struggle to achieve their goals.  I was in the latter group, but the positive aspect of having a longer journey to publication is that it taught me the value of constantly honing my skills.  I also learned that publishing is a “shifting landscape”—constantly in flux.  Trends come and go.  So, it’s best for writers to keep a strong writing ethic and stay true to their artistic vision.  
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Author:  I do think a traditional publisher is best for me; however, I know other writers who have been quite satisfied and successful with indie publishing. 
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Author:  Write your heart out!  No matter what happens, no matter how many rejections you receive, you have to keep producing new stories.  My creative writing teacher told me years ago that “a little talent and a lot of hard work can get almost anyone published.”  I believe that.  Do your homework about publishers, attend conferences to network, and always, always be professional.   
About the book:
Claire’s Last Secret
1873, Florence. Claire Clairmont, the last survivor of the ‘haunted summer of 1816’ Byron/Shelley circle, is living out her final years in genteel poverty, but the appearance of British tourist, William Michael Rossetti, brings hope that she may be able to sell some of her memorabilia to earn enough cash to support her and her niece/companion, Paula.
But Rossetti’s presence in Florence heralds a cycle of events that links the summer of 1816 – when Claire conceived an ill-fated child with George Gordon, Lord Byron, when Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, and when four tempestuous lives came together – to a tragic death. As Claire begins to unravel the truth, she must go back to that summer of passion to discover the identity of her old enemy.